Finland as an actor in the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy

The key objectives of the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) include safeguarding the EU’s common values, preserving peace, consolidating democracy and respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, as well as strengthening the EU’s internal and external security. Finland participates actively in preparing and implementing CFSP policies and in enhancing CFSP decision-making.

EU's foreign ministers in a group photo in Helsinki.
EU's foreign ministers met in an informal meeting, Gymnich, in Helsinki in August 2019. Photo: Lauri Heikkinen/Prime Minister's Office, Finland.

Responding to changing foreign and security policy challenges requires consistent, uniform and efficient action from the EU.

In its broader sense, the CFSP includes all aspects of foreign policy and all questions related to external security.  

The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) was first created by the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. It has since been strengthened by subsequent Treaties.

The Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force in 2009, strengthened the CFSP, making its key objective to increase the effectiveness and global weight of the EU’s foreign policy. The Treaty of Lisbon gave the EU a ‘Foreign Minister’ when it created the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European External Action Service(Link to another website.) (Opens New Window) (EEAS), which supports the High Representative. 

Josep Borrell from Spain has served as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy since December 2019.

Instruments of the CFSP 

The instruments available to the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) include political and economic instruments and instruments of military and civilian crisis management.

The EU employs a variety of diplomatic instruments, such as political dialogue, Council conclusions, European Council statements and formal diplomatic representations of official views, known as démarches. Crisis management missions and operations(Link to another website.) (Opens New Window) and restrictive measures against third countries, namely sanctions(Link to another website.) (Opens New Window), are among the more tangible measures available to the CFSP.

High Representative of the Union Josep Borrell. Photo: EU

The European External Action Service (EEAS) assists the High Representative in preparing the EU’s external action and in ensuring its coherence and coordination.

The Council of the European Union may appoint EU Special Representatives (EUSRs) (Link to another website.) (Opens New Window)with a special mandate to assist the High Representative. A number of EUSRs have been mandated to represent the EU in crisis and conflict areas outside the EU. They enable the EU to have an active and comprehensive role in conflict resolution.   Currently, there are nine EUSRs, of which eight have a regional mandate and one has a thematic focus.

Objectives of the CFSP

The objectives of the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy are outlined in the 2016 Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy(Link to another website.) (Opens New Window). The Global Strategy aims to increase the EU’s global effectiveness, to reinforce solidarity through CSDP, and to intensify the coordination between the EU’s internal and external policies.

The EU has continued its efforts to specify the level of ambition defined in the Global Strategy and to strengthen the EU’s external and internal capabilities and unity. An example of this work is the Strategic Compass(Link to another website.) adopted in spring 2022. The Strategic Compass takes into account the changed security situation in Europe. It is a concrete strategy to develop the EU cooperation on security and defence. It sets objectives for enhancing military capabilities, for strengthening resilience, for making the EU’s rapid response and crisis management capabilities more effective, for improving military mobility and for enhancing the EU’s interoperability.

Finland and the CFSP

The Government Programme(Link to another website.) (Opens New Window) defines the premises for Finland as an actor in the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Finland’s security, welfare and the keys for its success are founded on comprehensive cooperation with other states and with international actors. 

For Finland, the European Union is a political community that connects Finland to Western values and its development and actions enhance Finland’s stability, prosperity and security.

The Government Report on Finnish Foreign and Security Policy (32/2020) states that in terms of Finland’s external relations, the European Union is our most important frame of reference, channel of influence and security community. By enhancing the EU’s coherence, external capabilities, and global leadership, Finland strengthens its own security, as well.

The Government Report on EU Policy (6/2021) outlines that Finland is committed to strengthening the EU’s global role and influence and to developing of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. The swiftness and credibility of the CFSP can be improved by increasing the use of qualified majority voting and constructive abstention.

The Government report on changes in the security environment (20/2022) notes that the role of the EU as a foreign security and defence policy actor has become stronger. The EU reacted exceptionally swiftly, consistently and efficiently to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by imposing sanctions on Russia and by supporting Ukraine, among other actions.